Details

Title

Mauritius, from Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns

Artist/Maker

Anna Atkins (British, 1799–1871)

Date

1851–1854

Medium

Cyanotype

Dimensions

Image: 10 1/8 × 7 15/16 inches

Credit

Gift in honor of Edward Anthony Hill

Accession #

2019.1

On View

Currently not on view

The earliest known woman photographer and the first person to make a photo book, Anna Atkins was a pivotal figure of photography and botany in Britain. During the 1840s and 1850s, she produced several extensive series of “photographical impressions” (photograms) using the cyanotype process, a camera-less process in which objects are placed onto a sensitized sheet of paper and exposed to light. The unexposed areas under the object remain white, while the areas hit by the light turn a distinct Prussian blue. Delicate and precise, Atkins’s photograms were meant to function primarily as scientific records categorizing the natural world, and in this case, the global reach of the British empire (Mauritius was a colony at the time).